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Massachusetts Students Weigh In on Remote Learning

Worcester, Mass., Public Schools students weighed in on the remote learning experience so far as some students prepare to return to the classroom — though most won’t be back in-person until January or February.

by Tanner Stening, Masslive.com / November 3, 2020

(TNS) — Worcester, Mass., Public Schools students weighed in on the remote learning experience so far as some students prepare to return to the classroom — though most won’t be back in-person until January or February.

As part its phased plan, Worcester schools are preparing to bring some students back into buildings as early as Nov. 16, even though coronavirus cases have been rising in the community.

On Nov. 16, students with the highest needs are set to return to school buildings. Eleven schools need to be ready for students to return by that date.

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley has said that districts with students learning in-person should continue to do so if there is no evidence of widespread virus transmission in school buildings.

During Monday’s School Committee meeting over Zoom, student Charles Feland said he has been enjoying the remote model so far.

“Everything’s going fine for me," he said.

Valerie Valdez, a sixth grader, said that while she misses seeing her friends in-person, she prefers the remote model because it’s safer.

“I think it’s more safe and I think I would rather keep on doing home learning,” she said.

Zoe Black, another Worcester student, said she’s finding it hard to focus at times while attending classes from home.

“The 70 minute classes are a bit too long,” she said. “It’s a lot of sitting and my back hurts.”

Black says she wishes there were more public spaces in her community for students to safely learn outside of their homes.

Student Lois Divoll said she appreciates that teachers have been checking in on the students' mental health, but wishes they devote more class time on the check-ins.

“I’ve noticed that my teachers feel reluctant to give up their class time for us to do it,” Divoll.

Superintendent Maureen Binienda praised the students for voicing their concerns, many of which she says school officials will look into to improve the educational environment.

“I think our students are doing a phenomenal job, and I think their parents are also,” Binienda said. “I think this was a very great forum, and I think we should do some more of these.”

Worcester is waiting on HVAC systems to be upgraded in buildings before bringing back students.

After some students did not have access to the internet in the spring, Chromebooks and hot spots were distributed to thousands of students when the academic year began in September.

But many Worcester residents complained of slow internet speeds. Roughly 18% of the city does not have broadband internet.

The city and school district are negotiating with Charter/Spectrum to offer a better internet plan for students.

(c)2020 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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